The CE4AMR team at the University of Leeds, and HERD International, Nepal is working with communities to co-design an educational resource on the topic of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This was originally planned to be co-developed by young people, teachers, and wider community members through a series of interactive workshops. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately pushed all aspects of this project online. This raises challenges for the participatory aspect of the work and, particularly the ability to connect and engage with young people.

Why engage young people with AMR?

Today, there are more adolescents and youths than ever before, including 1.2 billion adolescents[1]. In Nepal, adolescents and youth comprise more than one-fifth (24%) of the total population[2]. Adolescents and youth are uniquely positioned to be effective advocates to enlighten AMR information to their family, friends, relatives, community, and nation. With this objective, we organized a virtual workshop with six adolescents and youths from different schools and colleges to talk about AMR and the best approaches to provide information about AMR to adolescents and youths. In this blog, I will share my experience of connecting with these adolescents and youths virtually and how far we are in making them change agents in our community.

AMR is a complex topic

Beginning with the few questions I had in my mind, how can I best deliver the important message of AMR, which is an important but often neglected topic to these youths. AMR is a topic that is misunderstood and is difficult somehow to make people understand well even adults, also considering the one health dimension of it. Here, we were dealing with adolescents/youths and using a virtual platform with a simple presentation that included some interesting pictures. Nonetheless, during the workshop, adolescents and youths found it difficult to understand the concept of how micro-organism becomes resistant and how they impact human, animals, and the environment in the future.

We tried to reiterate to them how people and animal lives can be in danger by our behavioral practices of irrational use of different types of medicine leading to AMR. Having said that, the intensity of learning and grasping messages was found neutral in these adolescents/youths. Especially, the younger ones with age 11-13 years had difficulties in understanding the concept of AMR. They could not process the information they received in the workshop as we also tried to facilitate interactive discussion. However, we also realized that our PowerPoint presentation was not accommodative to their level of understanding. We had presented slides with attractive pictures. This is not enough precisely for this age group to grasp their attention throughout, and we could have supplemented our presentation with stories, realistic examples, vignettes especially when we are doing it virtually. Adding these participatory approaches can enhance participatory and effective learning in such age groups.

What did we learn?

We as a team realized that it’s a long way to make adolescents/youths an advocate of AMR in our community and would demand innovations following participatory approaches with their meaningful engagement. And so were their voices when we discussed; which method do they think is useful to understand the AMR information? They highlighted methods such as documentary video, role-play, posters, pamphlets to be effective. This discussion is helpful to plan methods to deliver information about AMR using methods that the adolescent/youths find effective following the co-creation modality. That would mean engaging youths from the very beginning of designing the AMR message/approach and rather motivate them to be a part of governance and decision-making on AMR education and awareness at the community level.

The blog can be accessed from here.

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